HUMANISTIC EDUCATION 169 3. THE BEGINNINGS OF HUMANISTIC EDUCATION IN THE NORTH The renaissance of Northern Europe, which may be dated roughly from 1430 to 1600, was very different from the Italian renaissance of which it was an offshoot. There was nothing of the wild exuberance of life that made the Italian cities the breeding places of genius, nothing of the expansive interest in nature and in humanity that produced such men as Michel Angelo and Leonardo da Vinci, and, till the Reformation at least, scarcely anything of the vehement assertion of individuality that characterized every phase of Italian life in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries. To begin with, the movement was exotic, represented by little groups of artists and scholars, who lived and worked in a certain detachment from their immediate environment and drew their inspiration directly and indirectly from contact with their fellows south of the Alps. Yet even within these limits it had far-reaching effects in nearly every sphere of human activity, and most of all in scholarship, education and religion. There were already at work in the slower and more practical northern mind vague yearnings for new modes of life. The renaissance came as a mighty quickening force, and set free imprisoned energies which issued ultimately in distinctive insti- tutions as great in their own way as the art and literature and politics of Italy. We have already noted the commencement of this change in education. We have seen that as a result of the growing power of the merchant class in the larger towns the control of the schools was beginning to pass from the clergy to the laity both in Britain and in Germany. But though the existence of town schools and lay teachers was highly significant, there was not as yet any con- siderable alteration in the general character of education. The old barren grammatical and rhetorical studies continued to monopolize the time of the student: the barbarous medieval Latin continued to be taught and used in indifference to any considerations of beauty and style. Not till the Fifteenth Century was drawing to a close and the revival of learning had made head- way among scholars everywhere, did the schools and universities begin to respond in any appreciable measure to the changed spirit of the age.